Review for Prison School - Collector's Edition
I hope you enjoyed Shimoneta last month. Much as we may want the most well-wrought, most intellectually challenging, the most original of anime series, there’s something to be said for just slumming it with a low-rent show aimed at the mass market, proud to live up to the maxim that sex sells, and that kinky sex sells even more. You may have the collected works of Francois Truffaut in your collection, but I bet it’s the Smokey and the Bandit that sees more play. Funimation are back, selling more kinky anime sex to warp our sensibilities, and leave us all wearing y-fronts on our heads. This time it’s Prison School, a show that has some serious traction with fans, the perfect storm of sadomasochism.
It’s funny how quickly a dream can turn into a nightmare. When the exclusive girls’ school, the Hachimitsu Private Academy turns co-ed, it seems like a dream for the first intake of five boys, Kiyoshi, Gakuto, Shingo, Andre and Joe, although for at least three of them, their personalities don’t bode well. But with a ratio of 200 girls to each boy, they’re not unjustified in expecting a little action. But the ostracism they get from the girls is hard to explain. Only Kiyoshi seems to make a connection with a girl in his class, bonding with Chiyo over sumo-wrestler themed erasers. The fact of the matter is that Hachimitsu Academy has an Underground Student Council which has already issued an edict banning fraternisation. Most of the girls don’t understand why, but they’re not about to disobey.
The price of disobedience becomes clear when the boys, frustrated by their isolation, do what boys will, and try peeping in the girls’ shower, only they get caught. They are subsequently introduced to the Prison School, given a choice between a month’s incarceration and expulsion. They are kept under lock and key in a jail built in the school yard, presided over by the Underground Student Council. Vice President Meiko is a full-on, big boobed dominatrix. Hana is all sweetness and light, until she turns on a dime into a foul-mouthed karate kicking delinquent, and President Mari hates all men thanks to the experience of her pervert father, who also is the School Chairman that single-handedly pushed through the co-ed policy. And while the other four have enough in the way of masochistic tendencies to appreciate the regime, all Kiyoshi wants to do is to get closer to Chiyo.
Twelve episodes of Prison School are presented across 2 Blu-rays from Funimation. This being a Showgate release and with their insistence on the cost-prohibitive PAL format, there is no corresponding DVD release for the show.
1. Peep Job
2. The Man Who Viewed Too Much
3. A Mighty Spurt
4. Take Me Out to the Sumoland
5. The School’s Number One Most Treacherous Man
6. Vengeance is Hana’s
7. Meiko’s Delicious Restaurant
8. The Diary of Andre
9. Full of Bodily Fluids
10. It’s a Bum-derful Life
11. Eryngii Brockovich
12. Good Morning, Prison!
Prison School gets the by now usual 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these Blu-rays, which is as good as it gets in terms of clarity and detail, other than the most minor of digital banding. The animation is smooth, and there is no sign of aliasing or other compression artefacts. Prison School’s art style is rather unique, making use of its colour palette to emphasis the fan service, the violence, and the gross-out humour. The art style is more impressionistic, emphasising curves and flesh, and body detail. When you see the exploitative camera angles used, the crotch and booby shots, you can understand why the visuals are presented this way.
You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English, and 2.0 Stereo Japanese, with subtitles and signs locked to the appropriate track. The Japanese audio is the way to go here, with quirky character voices all around, enhancing the comedy of the show. I gave the English dub a try, and for the first time in ages, I heard a dub that was actively bad. When you hear the voice that ADR Director Sonny Strait himself gave to Andre (the tiny face in a giant head), you’ll realise just how much this dub sucks. It’s one of those times that you wish you could scratch out an audio track from a disc without affecting the rest of it, just so that you’ll never be tempted to listen to it again.
The discs present their content with animated menus.
Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for Shimoneta.
You’ll find an audio commentary on episode 1 here, with ADR Director Sonny Strait alongside Kristen McGuire (Chiyo), and Austin Tindle (Kiyoshi).
Disc 2 autoplays with a trailer for Bikini Warriors.
The episode 11 video commentary lets you see Clifford Chapin (Shingo), Alexis Tipton (Hana), and Tia Ballard (Mari).
The episode 12 audio commentary features Sonny Strait, Tia Ballard, and Chris Bevins (Joe).
You get the textless credits with locked subtitles, 7:26 of commercials, and trailers for Death Parade, the live action Attack on Titan movies, Harmony, High School DXD Season 3, Maria the Virgin Witch, and Aquarion Logos.
The OVA episode isn’t in this release though, and I haven’t seen the retail release to comment on the packaging or the physical extras.
You will either hate Prison School outright, or you will simultaneously love and hate it. I mean, the very premise of the show is offensive. You have five boys in a girls’ private school, who get caught peeping in the changing rooms, a crime for which they would have been expelled immediately in any sane world, but here they have the choice between expulsion and prison, a facility in the school grounds. It’s where they will serve their time incarcerated and physically and sexually abused, humiliated, tortured, and degraded by a trio of dominatrixes that comprise the school’s Underground Student Council, while the camera gazes lasciviously on these girls’ bodies constantly, opting for the boob and barely covered crotch shot. The show manages misandry and misogyny in the same breath. It gets away with it because it’s the traditionally ‘stronger’ gender, males who are at the mercy of the traditionally ‘weaker’. But to see how offensive this premise really is, just imagine Prison School with the roles gender reversed, five girls in prison in an exclusive boys’ school. Not so funny now, is it?
Then I learned something. Beneath this forward thinking, politically correct, fair minded individual who wants to do the right thing lies a sick, twisted, and sadistic bastard. For once I had clicked with the premise, got used to Prison School’s storytelling style, its animation outlook, and the prurient mindset of the animators, I started to enjoy this show. I started to enjoy it a lot. And it’s exactly for those reasons delineated above. It does make a difference on which side of the gender divide this show’s premise plays, and the realities of domestic violence put to one side, it’s funny to see girls beating up on guys in a way that would be unconscionable the other way around. And I still have enough of a pulse and testosterone to appreciate the perverted camera’s gaze on the female form in this show (not that it’s one sided, there’s male nudity on show as well in some scenes). And more importantly, before Prison School’s lewdness titillates, it makes you laugh out loud. You’ll only want tissues for when you wind up inadvertently snorting beverage out of your nose.
It’s all about the Underground Student Council president Mari, who because of her perverted father (the School Chairman) hates men. The very idea of the school going co-ed offends her, and she leaps at the first opportunity to get the boys out. Just five boys in the whole year, losers most of them who think that the odds actually favour talking to girls when they’re outnumbered 200-1. But Mari has forewarned the student body not to associate with them, triggering their desperate peeping manoeuvre. The school rules state prison before expulsion, so it becomes Mari’s mission to go the extra mile and get rid of them altogether, only dominatrix Meiko’s violence is just a turn on for some of the masochistic boys. Hana’s more brutal violence makes a less erotic statement, but her weakness becomes Kiyoshi, for perverted reasons (actually, the word ‘perverted’ should be taken for granted with any description of this show).
Five boys in prison, protesting their innocence, only things get complicated for them, and for Mari, as it turns out that Mari’s kid sister Chiyo is sweet on Kiyoshi. That relationship drives a wedge between the boys in the first place, and it’s a division that Mari is quick to exploit, in an attempt to get the boys to commit one more expulsion level offence. But once the boys realise that they’ve been played, they finally realise that they need to set aside their differences, and turn the tables on the Underground Student Council, clearing their names.
Prison School is funny, silly, and it’s absurd, as well as being grossly offensive and with few if any redeeming values. You’ll like it if you too have an inner sadistic bastard. Remember Ade Edmondson and Rik Mayall in Bottom? If you like that, you’ll like Prison School. 4/10 if you don’t fit that category, otherwise...